Para la versión en español, oprima aquí. Jessie Eby contributed to this blog.
Nobody sets out with the goal of staying small when they start their business. In fact, growth is the driving motivation behind most of the decisions that are made in a business. It’s easy to come up with ideas about how to grow, but what should you do once your efforts begin to pay off?
My business is growing—now what?
The life of a business owner is a little bit like a rollercoaster. You work so hard to get your business off the ground, slowly climbing little by little. Your growth is a little bit like the speed and momentum you build up as you drop off the first peak. It can help propel you through the next curves and loops if you have a plan in place to leverage that momentum. Here are a few things to consider as you move forward.
Understand your audience
No matter what you do, it’s important to keep your audience at the heart of your decisions. From marketing to operations, your goal should be to serve your customers well. Knowing your audience can help you make informed decisions regarding your product offerings, business operations, and marketing strategy. You can find key demographic information by analyzing data from multiple sources. Pay attention to your customers’ buying preferences or service contracts. This can drive decisions that affect revenue such as product offerings, market share, and regional expansion.
Focus on leads
Leads are important, even as your business begins to grow. Securing leads both organically and through marketing efforts boosts brand awareness and increases your sales. Word-of-mouth marketing will likely begin to play a role in your business as you gain momentum, but it’s still important to continue to generate and follow up on your leads. This ensures a steady stream of business, even during the leaner cycles of your business.
Create a vision
Visualizing a path for growth makes expansion a smoother process. Set goals that support growth and share them throughout your company. It’s important to get your team on the same page about your growth goals and the steps you’ll take to get there. We go further faster when we go together.
Refer to your business plan
We’ve mentioned the importance of referring to your business plan before. When your business begins to grow, it’s important to go back to your business plan to determine if any changes need to be made to accommodate your new growth. Here are a few questions to consider as you look back at your business plan.
- Planning: Are the resources you started with still sufficient?
- Projections: Is your growth on track with the timeline you initially set? Are your sales projections still on track?
- Lending: Does your business need additional funds to support your growth?
- Staffing: Are you sufficiently staffed to handle business at your current level? Is it time to consider hiring employees?
- Capital: Do you have enough money to sustain operations at this pace? What plans do you need to make to account for future growth?
- Cash flow: Is your current method of cash flow management working?
If your business needs additional funds, or if you have questions on capital and growth, reach out to our loan specialists. We can help with one-on-one coaching and may even be able to help financially. Find your loan specialist here.
Plan for future growth
The best indicator for future success is taking an honest look at your past performance. What went well? What could have been improved? Looking back can help identify new strategies for growth.
Our best advice for business owners
Being a business owner isn’t easy. Here are a few of our best tips from the trenches.
Build a support network
Being a business owner can be isolating. Having a network of like-minded people to bounce ideas off of, work through struggles with, and go to for support/offer support can help. The Center for Rural Affairs’ Women’s Business Center hosts networking events in select communities in Nebraska. You can also meet others at business groups within your community, such as Chamber of Commerces and Community Clubs.
Be specific with your business goals
Big goals are great, but if you can break them down into smaller, more granular goals, it makes them more realistic. Making regular progress and celebrating small wins along the way will help keep you on track toward your big goals.
Delegate when possible
You don’t have to do it all. Figure out what your strengths are and find others to fill in the rest. We all do best when we can focus on our strengths and rely on others to carry the weight in the areas where we don’t excel.
Find your best niche and stick to it
Your target audience doesn’t expect you to be their ultimate problem solver. They come to you for a very specific service; focus on doing that well.
Don’t quit your day job immediately
It’s easy to get swept away with excitement when your business begins to grow. Stick it out at your day job a little while longer. When you’re ready to make your business your primary source of income, do so with a solid plan for your financial success.
Remember, growing pains are inevitable. As growth prompts change, things are bound to be uncomfortable at times. Keep moving forward and don’t get discouraged.
The Center for Rural Affairs offers personal, one-on-one business assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners across the state. Our business specialists and consultants can work with you virtually or in-person on business planning, financial goals, and more. To request an appointment, please email email@example.com.